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The President of the Republic at the opening of the XV Baltic Students’ Song and Dance Festival Gaudeamus June 30, 2006, in Tartu

Dear young people,
Dear festival participants,
Organisers of Gaudeamus and guests!
Honourable rector!

Welcome to Tartu, to the city of students and good ideas and birthplace of famous Estonian Song Festivals!

For almost a centaury and a half our national song festivals have been milestones in Estonian cultural history and a source of national identity. It was here in Tartu where the first countrywide song festival in 1869 gave birth to a unique tradition that by now has earned recognition from UNESCO.

The feeling of unity and the powerful synergy arising from song festivals facilitated the restoration of our independence fifteen years ago. “Singing Revolution” became a unique phenomenon that was previously unknown in world history.

Nationwide Song Festivals have facilitated the emergence of several new traditions. One of the most significant of them is the Students’ Song Festival Gaudeamus, which was first organised by Richard Ritsing 50 years ago. The tradition of the Baltic Students’ Song and Dance festival has not only survived all those years, for many it certainly belongs among the most memorable events of their student years.

Let us thank Maestro Richard Ritsing - the initiator and organiser of that excellent idea. Let us also thank the organisers, and participants of today’s festival! I wish that with this beautiful tradition the cooperation between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will continue and will enrich our lives in many different fields.

Gaudeamus igitur!

© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l